Saturday, September 24, 2005

Fernandina Shmi Skywalker Fernandez

As my friends and family, who have heard hours of endless complaining about my land-barge size and various aches and pains are all-too-aware, I'm currently pregnant with my second baby. Maybe it's hormones, maybe it's just boredom, but I feel compelled to go off on a rant here, because if I hear that eternal question, "Have you thought of names?" one more time, I think my head just might explode. And that can't be good for the baby.

Can I just say how many times someone has asked me that, and when I've answered truthfully, responded in a way that would only be excusable from someone raised by wolves? And can I just say how many times that someone was a member of my own family, who were not, to the best of my knowledge, raised by wolves? Or even wild dogs, for that matter? People, the proper response is: "Oh. That's a nice name." Family, repeat after me: "Oh. That's a nice name."

Seeing as this is daughter #2, we've circumvented the entire name question-answer dance--and the invariable ensuing pregnancy rage that accompanies it--by simply responding that we are naming our child Fernandina Shmi Skywalker Fernandez.

And yes, there is one person out there, a member of one of our families, who thought we were serious. For all I know, she still thinks that, since all I could do was blink stupidly in the face of her earnest "Really? Are you sure?"

Just for fun, here are the top responses to a few of our potential names for our first daughter, Maggie Rose, shot down without mercy before we could even decide ourselves whether we loved them or not. As for the responsible parties (*cough* Tommy *cough*), you know who you are:

1) "Delaney? Sounds like a stripper."

2) "Delaney? Huh. I think you should name her Molly."

3) [Delivered in a slightly panicked Spanish accent, with a rolling R]: "HARRRRRRRper?! HAAAARRRRRRper??? What is a HARRRRper?"

4) "Rowan reminds me of Rowan Atkinson."

5) "Rowan? Like Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in?"

6) "Brooke Shields just named her kid Rowan, so now you can’t."

7) "HARRRRRRper?!"
(Me: "It’s like Harper Lee, who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, Mom.")
"Well, I like Gregory Peck, but HARRRRRper?"

8) "Yeah, weird names are coming back in style now."

9) "Um. Okaaaaaaaaaaaaay. Do you have any other choices?"

10) "Why don't you just name the kid Nerd?"

The scary thing is, Shmi is starting to sound kind of cute....

Monday, September 19, 2005

Talk Like a Pirate Day

That's right, September 19 is officially International Talk Like a Pirate Day. And since I'm stuck at home behind my computer (unless I decide to get crazy and go get the oil changed on my car today), I figured I'd do my part to foster obnoxious behavior elsewhere in the world.

As my local newspaper points out, Sept. 19 is also the 41st anniversary of the TV debut of Flipper, as well as TV Batman Adam West's birthday.

Wannabe Jack Sparrows among us can visit, the holiday's official website, for celebration inspiration.


Friday, September 16, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

As some people know, I'm a magazine editor for an environmental and social justice nonprofit in my other life. So, if you read my blog, you'll probably get more than your fair share of granola bits from time to time. (I'll refrain from polarizing political rants, though--promise!) Here's one: As you’ve undoubtedly heard, there are many well-known nonprofits working to aid Hurricane Katrina victims, from the Red Cross to Feed the Children to the Humane Society. While they're doing a truly wonderful job providing immediate aid, I have another recommendation for your hurriance-relief dollars. One worthy organization you may not have heard about in the news media is Enterprise Corporation of the Delta (ECD), a nonprofit community development financial institution and sponsor of HOPE Community Credit Union.

Started in 1995 by an African-American church congregation, ECD and HOPE work
to strengthen communities and improve lives of people in economically distressed areas of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Basically, ECD and HOPE provide the low-income residents of these states with affordable loans, checking and savings accounts, technical assistance, and financial literacy workshops. These services--which traditional banks generally won't provide to low-income folks who are "poor credit risks"--make it possible for our country's poorest people to build homes, send their children to school, or get an education themselves, or start a small business -- and have more than a good shot at succeeding. (And yes, they have an amazing repayment rate. Most community development financial institutions report 95% loan repayment or greater.) In fact, ECD and HOPE have helped more than 10,000 people in these states lift themselves out of poverty. So if you're concerned about making life better for those low-income people who were hardest hit by Katrina, ECD and HOPE are providing you with a way to help those in need help themselves.

With so many communities they serve decimated by Katrina, ECD and HOPE are now using their close ties to the people to participate in immediate and long-term disaster aid. Initially, funds will go to local organizations providing displaced hurricane victims with food, shelter, and clothing. As these basic needs are met, ECD and HOPE “will build on 12 years of experience in strengthening distressed areas to help residents rebuild their lives, homes, businesses, and communities.”

As my friend Mary says, "Donating to rebuilding efforts isn't as sexy as immediate relief, but it's just as critical."

Consider donating to ECD’s Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund, or opening a Hurricane Relief Certificate of Deposit (CD) account with HOPE at a lower-than-usual 0-2 percent interest rate (your choice), and channel funds where they’re most needed. Mail donations to ECD’s Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund, P.O. Box 22886, Jackson, MS 39225-2886, or visit for wiring instructions. To open a Hurricane Relief CD with HOPE, call 601/944-1100, or visit

And no, I'm not affiliated with ECD or HOPE. I just think they're doing amazing work that's not making it into the mainstream media.

:::stepping off of soapbox now::::


I figure I could use something to rev myself up in the morning when it comes to writing. Maybe this blog will help me get into my work-in-progress faster than usual. Because I'm way too easily distrac-- Hey, what's that sparkly thing over there? Anyway, welcome to my blog. I'm currently terrified that I'm going to sound like a complete idiot on a daily basis, but fear of public humiliation has never stopped me before....
I thought I'd start with a list of my five current favorite romantic suspense books, just for fun. (I'm terrible at blurbing books, so my apologies to the authors):
1) GARDEN OF BEASTS by Jeffrey Deaver. GoB is a stand-alone thriller by the author who writes the Lincoln Rhyme series. (The first book in that series, THE BONE COLLECTOR, was made into a movie starring Denzel Washington and Black Widow Jolie.) It's set in the forties on the cusp of World War II, and centers around a professional assassin who, after being arrested, makes a deal with the government--he'll travel to Germany and take out a prominent Nazi official in exchange for a clean slate. Deaver's characterization in this book is terrific--you'll actually feel more than a bit of sympathy for the Nazi in question. And if you've ever wanted to learn how to deliver twists and turns that are genuinely surprising, this man is the master.

2) MARITAL PRIVILEGE by Ann Voss Peterson. I was inspired to write for Harlequin Intrigue after reading a chilling suspense by Ann called ACCESSORY TO MARRIAGE. MARITAL PRIVILEGE is her latest, and it's one of the most innovative series romantic suspense books I've read--and just as chilling as ACCESSORY. The story centers on Laura, a pregnant restaurant co-owner who thought she knew the man she married--until the Russian mob arrives on her doorstep looking for her husband Alec and ready to kill her and their unborn child. Now, with her employees dead, her restaurant decimated in an explosion, and her husband shocking her with his intimate knowledge of firearms and car-jacking techniques, Laura's on the run ... not to mention ready for a divorce. But Alec isn't going down without a fight--or letting her go without one.

3) MIDNIGHT ISLAND SANCTUARY by Susan Peterson. If you like gothics, you'll love Sue's 2004 Harlequin Intrigue. The heroine, Cora, barely escaped a vicious attack. On the run from a killer who may strike again, she takes a job as a chef with a wealthy family living in the requisite spooky house on a remote island. I haven't yet read it, but Sue's first-person sleuth book, HARD EVIDENCE, also got rave reviews when it was released last July.

4) THE MIDAS TRAP by Sharron McClellan. If you like a healthy dose of action-adventure with your romantic suspense, Sharron's books are the place to go. After publicly humiliating her years ago, archaeologist Simon Owens recruits fellow archeologist Veronica Bright to lsearch for the legendary Midas stone—which reputedly has the power to turn whatever it touches into gold. But others are looking for the stone as well, and they won't stop until they get it ... and until Simon and Veronica are dead.

5) MORTAL SIN by Laurie Breton. I love this book mainly for the rich characters. Sarah's troubled niece has run away from home, and Sarah is terrified she will end up in the wrong hands. She turns to Father Clancy Donovan, a Catholic priest who works with teenage runaways, for help, and is more than troubled by the chemistry between them. I have Breton's newest, LETHAL LIES, on my TBR pile as I write.

(OK, I couldn't stop at five. One more....)

6) THE EIGHT by Katherine Neville. I LOVE this book, which defies description other than to say it's a cross between Indiana Jones (but with a female protagonist) and THE DAVINCI CODE (although Neville made up her own esoteric legend, rather than basing it on existing research/theories a la Dan Brown). From "In the 20th century, Catherine Velis is a computer expert with a flair for music, painting, and chess who, on her way to Algeria at the behest of the accounting firm where she is employed, is invited to take a mysterious moonlighting assignment: recover the pieces of an old chess set missing for centuries. "In the midst of the French Revolution, a young novice discovers that her abbey is the hiding place of a chess set, once owned by the great Charlemagne, which allows those who play it to tap into incredible powers beyond the imagination. She eventually comes into contact with the major historical figures of the day, from Robespierre to Napoleon, each of whom has an agenda."
Word has it that she's working on a sequel, and I'll be first in line to get it.

About Me

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Tracy Montoya writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.

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